Fred McAninch talks to drillers often, helping them to get the most out of their rigs.
“I love to be grilled, and I like dialogue,” said the “Rig Doctor,” as McAninch is known, before his recent presentation at the Michigan Ground Water Association convention in Acme, Mich. “Sometimes they know something that I don’t know that can add to what’s already there (in his presentation).”
McAninch has seen it all when it comes to rigs-people who abuse and batter the primary tool of their trade, and expect it to not break down. But things are improving, he says.
“In the last 10 years, maintenance has become a lot better because of an awareness of net cost,” McAninch said.
“They’re finding out and figuring out-and I’ve been showing them-downtime is a financial killer. Because when that rig goes down that expense for that rig, to have it on site or when it’s supposed to go out, that goes on. When I sit down to figure out what it costs per hour of what they’re losing, it just jars them.”
He said rig manufacturers have been a big driver in education about basic maintenance, but a common problem is still ignoring a rig’s vital fluids.
“In fact, I’ve got a prime example in my shop,” he said. “Ten years ago, I rebuilt this gearbox on this water well rig’s mud pump. I got to salvage the two prime gears, the two driving gears. This time, I’m not going to get to salvage the two driving gears because this customer, he won’t change his oil and he won’t grease it. And this time, it’s going to be about $10,000-11,000 versus about $3,500-4,000.”
Beyond helping drillers understand the importance of basic maintenance, McAninch’s shop does a lot of work improving the efficiency of rigs. That means improved circulation of mud, air or both through better plumbing. And, like in people, the pump is the heart of the circulatory system.
“One of the biggest things is on mud pumps and keeping the eccentric bearings tight, which means adjusted up,” McAninch said. “If they will do that, and change that oil every six months they will be amazed as to the life of that pump.”
He adds that one customer of his has gone 24 years without a rebuild on his mud pump. The secret? Nothing more than regular maintenance, McAninch said. Along with that, he says, keep records: write it down every time the oil’s changed or a gear is greased, and follow as closely as possible the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.
McAninch has operated under the “Rig Doctor” moniker in Indianapolis for 21 years, and is a longtime water and oil drilling professional.
“I have rebuilt a number and updated a number of cable tool rigs,” he said. “My real primary is what they call the chain feed rigs or the kelly rigs. That’s where my real expertise lies, and also in the oil fields, because for 23 years when I was with Gefco, that’s where I was.”
And, where did the “Rig Doctor” name come from?
“Actually, it was suggested by a friend in the business,” McAninch said.
“We kind of batted it around and thought, that doesn’t sound bad.”